A Canadian senior member of the International Olympic Committee is dismissing the lack of public spectators at the Tokyo Olympics as “irrelevant.”
The COVID-19 pandemic means no members of the public can watch events live, but Dick Pound told the CBC on Thursday in Tokyo that shouldn’t affect the competitions and ceremonies themselves.
“The crowd is largely irrelevant. And every once in a while you give them some lights to wave around,” Pound said, referencing Friday’s opening ceremony, in an interview with CBC News’ Adrienne Arsenault on The National.
While the 68,000-seat Tokyo Olympic Stadium will be devoid of public spectators for the opening ceremony, an estimated 10,000 government and IOC officials are expected to be in attendance.
WATCH | Pound discusses fans, restrictions on The National:
“If you have the president and secretary of seven international sports federations, I don’t think the world is going to end. I mean, someone may try to make a mountain out of that molehill,” Pound said.
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Earlier, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that just 30-40 athletes of a contingent of 370 would participate in the opening ceremony due to various health and safety protocols.
Pound added that the ceremony is a made-for-TV event that shouldn’t be negatively affected by the missing crowd. Meanwhile, events such as softball and soccer have already begun in empty stadiums.
Arsenault noted the presence of athletes’ family and friends could not just be replicated.
“You can’t fake the moms and dads, that’s for sure. And that’s disappointing,” Pound said.
‘If [outbreak] happens, it happens’
Pound also indicated he wasn’t overly worried about a potential COVID-19 outbreak. A total of 91 people accredited for the Tokyo Games have tested positive since the beginning of July.
“If that happens, it happens. But non-competing in that context is not a boycott, that’s a health issue that it’s too bad for that particular country, but the health and safety of everybody else is even more important,” he said.
Instead, Pound said he was more concerned about public opinion on Tokyo 2020 being swayed by social media.
“If people see that [social-media users] just totally uninformed then they can become irrelevant and that’s really what you hope.”